HAMBURG, Sep 23 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga used the country’s peaceful referendum, the new Constitution, recent by-elections and his long ties with Germany to persuade businesses here to set operations in Kenya.
At a meeting with representatives of more than 60 firms at the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, the PM likened Kenya’s recent experience to that of Germany after the Second World War.
The Prime Minister said that like Germany after the war, Kenya is rising from the devastation caused by bad governance of the past decades and the violence of 2008.
Saying Germany was the first country to establish diplomatic ties with Kenya at independence, the PM said Kenya has been born again and asked German businesses to move into the country and stand in solidarity with the Second Republic.
“Nobody knows that a nation can rise from ashes to greatness better than you the Germans. You rose from the ravages of the Second World war to become one of the largest economies in the world. Kenya is rising too,” the PM said.
“I am confident that with the steps we are taking back at home, Kenya the giant is reawakening to claim its rightful position in Africa. I invite you to be part of the story of the rise of the new Kenya,” he added.
Mr Odinga is in the City of Hamburg for the Kenya Business Day organised by the Kenyan mission in Germany and Afrika-Verein, the German-African Business Association.
Addressing participants, the PM said nobody should doubt Kenya’s stability. He said since the end of the violence with the formation of the Grand Coalition Government, the country has held successful and peaceful polls, including the referendum and last week’s by-elections.
He said the by-elections and the referendum should lay to rest any doubts about Kenya’s capacity to hold peaceful polls and asked investors here to show solidarity by moving into Kenya.
He said the new constitution will strengthen transparency, accountability and the rule of law, all of which are important to investors.
The new laws, he said, will also create a predictable political environment, with election dates clearly spelt out.
The Prime Minister said the government will implement every provision of the new constitution.
He asked German businesses to seize opportunities in infrastructure where the government is investing heavily to improve connectivity and create jobs, just like Germany did after the war.
The PM invited Germans to invest in agriculture, education, Information Technology, mining and energy production saying it would help the government create jobs while the firms also transfer technology to the youth.
He said Kenya is keen on increased trade and investment as opposed to aid, adding that foreign aid has left the country with heavy debts for which there is little to show.
The PM expressed confidence that Kenya is on track to catch up with nations like Korea and Singapore with which it was at par at independence, adding that Kenya’s prosperity would pull up the rest of Sub-Sahara Africa.
“When you invest in Kenya, you are not only helping Kenya. A strong Kenya has the capacity to pull up the rest of the Sub-Sahara Africa,” the PM said.
Officials of the Kenya Investment Authority and the Export Processing Zones Authority made presentations on the investment climate and opportunities in the country.
Opening the conference, the President of Afrika Verein, Dr Jens Peter Breitengross said German businesses are keen on Kenya if they are assured of a legal and political environment that enables long term investment planning.
Representatives of various German businesses asked the Government to provide them with copies of the country’s Vision 2030 to help them understand the direction the country is taking.
Officials of the German firms already in Kenya said there was evidence that Kenya is performing below its capacity.
Citing the coffee sector, a German business official said while coffee consumption is expanding worldwide by about 2 per cent every year, its production is Kenya has declined by about 60 per cent.
The PM will tomorrow tour a number of German firms including aero planes manufacturer Airbus Industry and hold more meetings with executives of other businesses.